Letter to Client
The consulting project was a tremendous success, and it was wonderful working with you. I can only hope that you are continuing with the great work that we started. This report will discuss the project from my perspective, and provide you with valuable insights and context into the work that we have done over the past several months.
The first section of the report describes the company and the sector in which it operates. The second section describes how I entered into the project and conveys my opening impressions and the information that I was able to gather through our initial discussions. This information was essential to framing the project.
The next section is about the diagnosis and the objectives. This section describes the grand objective that we talked about, the sub-objectives, as well as the structure of the multiple iterations.
After a note about human subject protection, I describe the action phase of the project. In this section I walk you through the different iterations and the progress that we made towards the organizational change process. In particular, there is a focus on how the different things that we did lead the organization towards its grand objective.
The next section is the facilitation and reflection phase. In this phase, I discuss my thoughts on the project, in particular how the project fits with my research on bringing about organizational change in not-for-profit organizations. I note in particular the differences between my experiences working with your organization and what I had expected from my review of the prevailing literature. The biggest difference was that there were no entrenched interests, and that the biggest source of motivation within the organization was positivity. This contrasts with the normal corporate experience of change as a top-down process where significant attention is paid to overcoming resistance. I then conclude the study by noting a few findings that can be used as the basis for future research.
This paper is about organizational change in not-for-profit organizations. The research was conducted in the style of action research, where the researcher worked with the organization in a consulting role, and there was mutual influence between the researcher and the organization. The organization had grown stale, and its volunteers expressed that the organization lacked a true mission, and fundraising efforts had become hampered as a result. The change process was renew and revitalize the organization, and it would set new goals with respect to finding a new mission and with respect to improving its fundraising.
The action research process allowed the researcher to work through multiple iterations, making a change or two each time, and then returning the following week in order to evaluate the outcomes of those changes and determine what changes could be made the following week.
The findings of the study were different from what was expected. There is not much literature on this subject, and most Organizational Change literature is on corporations. A prevailing narrative in that literature is of resistance to change, and how to overcome it. This project saw little resistance -- there were no vested interests, just passionate volunteers. So there were many aspects of appreciative inquiry in this action research. I concluded that appreciative inquiry is a powerful tool when working with not-for-profit entities, because motivations of employees are different. Further, I found that organizational change can be effective in not-for-profits as a collaborative process, rather than a top-down process. These findings can serve as the basis for future research exploring the topic of organizational change in the not-for-profit sector.
My company was in the not-for-profit sector. The resources on which this sector runs are generally the result of donations, either financial or in-kind, and volunteer labor. The rate at which donations are acquired is related to two major factors -- the marketing...
Through a combination of less aggressive marketing and a decline in the need for the work that my organization does, it found that in recent years it had seen a decline in donations. On top of this, the organization identified to me that it lacked a sense of purpose, that there was a certain inertia that had set into the organization. Most of the volunteers and leaders within the organization have been with it for a long time, and they generally felt that they were, collectively, devoid of ideas to bring about organizational renewal. They did not even have objectives or a vision of what that "renewal" might mean. So my task with the company was to take them from that point to a point where they had a vision, objectives, and had a pathway for reaching those objectives. My role as a consultant was to help them to help themselves.
The idea for the project originated with the fact that the literature was lacking in the area of research on organizational change in not-for-profit entities. The canon of research on not-for-profit entities is generally smaller than for corporations. This is the case with the literature on organizational change. A key issue is resistance to change, as identified in the literature of organizational change management. There is, however, not a lot of research about organizational change in not-for-profit entities. Not-for-profit entities are different from corporations in that many times they depend on volunteer staff. Such staff do not technically need to stay with the organization if they are unhappy -- they will leave if they are unhappy or unmotivated because they do not rely on the organization for their paychecks. Thus, there is, or at least there should be, a difference in the motivation level for dealing with organizational change.
Entry and Informal Data Collection
For the project I first approached a couple of different organizations, but the not-for-profit entity proved to be the most suitable and the most viable for this project. I felt from the beginning that it was important to establish the contract between myself and the client. In my culture, building relationships is always important, and especially in business. Thus, it seemed quite natural that it would not only be impossible to define the relationship strictly in terms of things you can write in a contract, but it would be silly to do so.
Right from the outset, I took the time to sit down with the client and walk them through the process, and my perspective on the process. I felt that this was necessary. I was never going to waltz in and bluster about my credentials and fill them with expectations of things that may or may not happen. Instead, I was very up front with the client about who I am, and what I bring to the table. I told them what the project was, and what was my interest in the project, and why their organization was perfect for this project. I also explained what the project was going to look like from my side, which is quite a bit different from how it looks from their side.
Further to this, I felt like it was important to listen as well. The project is ultimately designed to help the organization, so I needed to hear from the organization what their expectations were, what their objectives were, and what they expected to see from myself and from the project. Listening is a very important skill, rather than simply coming into the organization, proclaiming my systems to be excellent, and acting like a dictator. Indeed, I do not think that this project would have gone all that smoothly had I not taken the time to build trust with the client right away. So this has been an ongoing process, of talking to the client, and taking time periodically to explain where the project is, and walking them through it. Overall, I feel that this has been effective. Even when things maybe have not been perfect, there is a high level of transparency that makes everybody involved feel comfortable with the process.
For me, the relationship with the client is an ongoing thing. You start by listening to their needs and interests, and make sure that they understand yours. Then, you are both on the same page with respect to expectations for each other. That's important. But you also have to realize that the relationship is going to evolve over time, so it is vital that the lines of communication remain open. Even when you are working solo, never forget that the cooperation of the client is essential, so you have to ensure that the client remains committed to the process the entire way throughout.
The client's reaction was positive. I think there was probably some trepidation, given that this organization was fairly closed for so long, with not a lot in the way of fresh faces and fresh ideas. So it was important to be very transparent and explain to the client how I could help them. The client…
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